Artificial turf–usually called “AstroTurf,” although that is a brand name more than it is a generic term–has evolved quite a bit from its origins in the 1960s. When it was first installed in a sports venue, the Houston AstroDome in 1965 (hence its name), AstroTurf was essentially like green carpet, a short-pile synthetic turf made of plastic. Today as technology has become more sophisticated the product has become more complex. Today’s AstroTurf consists of silicone-coated fibers embedded in a polypropylene base, infilled with a layer of sand and rubber granules (simulating soil) and curly fibers that are intended to keep the straight “blades” of grass upright. There are 15 or so major manufacturers of artificial turf, of which AstroTurf is the market leader. There have been concerns about whether it is safe, especially for use on small sports venues where kids play, and these concerns led to a 2008 study by Johns Hopkins and the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey of the potential health effects of artificial turf.
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